My mom gave me this book. In fact, she also gave a copy to my sister and my sister in law. And while she raised three kids and was involved in multiple things including work, volunteering, etc at the same time, I'm pretty sure she still finds the life that my generation typically leads to be hectic and overwhelming…hence the reason this book caught her eye and that she thought it would resonate with me. She was right.
Whether its my current stage of life, the way the book was written or the fact that this book did make me laugh out loud, I really enjoyed reading it and want to let other people know about it as I think its worth reading.
Here is a brief synopsis:
Overwhelmed is a book about time pressure and modern life. It is a deeply reported and researched, honest and often hilarious journey from feeling that, as one character in the book said, time is like a "rabid lunatic" running naked and screaming as your life flies past you, to understanding the historical and cultural roots of the overwhelm, how worrying about all there is to do and the pressure of feeling like we're never have enough time to do it all, or do it well, is "contaminating" our experience of time, how time pressure and stress is resculpting our brains and shaping our workplaces, our relationships and squeezing the space that the Greeks said was the point of living a Good Life: that elusive moment of peace called leisure.
Author Brigid Schulte, an award-winning journalist for the Washington Post – and harried mother of two – began the journey quite by accident, after a time-use researcher insisted that she, like all American women, had 30 hours of leisure each week. Stunned, she accepted his challenge to keep a time diary and began a journey that takes her all over the world driven by two questions, 'Why are things the way they are?' and, 'How can they be better?' The answers she found are illuminating, perplexing and ultimately hopeful.
So…do you have 30 hours of leisure time each week? I don't feel like I do, that's for sure!
It doesn't matter if you are a stay at home mom, a working mom, a mom of 3 kids, a mom of one kid, a newlywed….this book captures some of the key struggles that North American society has with the battle to committ to doing and having it all. It has fabulous insights into how society has changed with the evolution of women working outside of the home – while workplaces may have adapted (but even here there is still a long way to go), the home hasn't really. This means that women still carry the bulk of household and child rearing responsibilities while often also working full time hours. Speaking from experience, that's a tall order. Chapter 8 – The Stalled Gender Revolution is a great conversation starter (get this book into your book clubs!)
One of my favourite parts of the book is the Appendix. Broken up into the three categories – Work, Love and Play, the key messages that the author comprises out of all of her research, conversations and personal revelations and written in concise bullet points. I have found myself reading these last seven pages over and over again – they make me smile, they make me think and they remind me to take action and make some changes.
I leave you with this advice from the author:
Understand that, for women, there never has been a history or culture of leisure or play, unless you consider sweeping, making cheese, churning butter, quilting or knitting your kind of fun. It will take an effort and strain to allow yourself time to play. Make the effort.